We have not had a chance to do any Ask Honey! posts for a long while as they usually require more time and I have been very busy. I’ve been planning to respond to a few questions we received on the blog recently regarding training & behaviour but unfortunately, I haven’t had the time to do that yet. I will get round to it soon – I promise!
Meanwhile, I just saw this question today – it came via our Facebook Fan Page. Due to the huge number of messages we receive, I am no longer able to send individual responses but instead will select some to answer here on Honey’s blog, so that all our readers can share in the information. Since this one seems to have some time urgency, I thought I’d answer it first.
Thank you, Hsin-Yi
Thanks for your message and I’m very honoured that you thought of me, although I’m really not an expert or anything – I’m just a pet owner!
First of all, it is very good of you not to rush into anything and to make the effort to “check things out” and try to do some research.
You asked if the puppy in the picture is a Dane or not – to be honest, that question is not really the one you should be asking and there are far more important things you should be considering. I will give you my opinion on the puppy but first, there are some other things you need to think about:
I wasn’t sure what you meant when you said your husband “found someone who had their dog online” – do you mean from a website or do you mean from online classified ads, like Craiglist or Ebay?
Also, I wasn’t sure if you wanted a purebred Dane puppy from a breeder – or just wanting to rehome a Dane from another family? Since you asked if that puppy was a Dane, I assume that you’re interested in a purebred Dane.
Getting a pure-bred Dane puppy
1) If you are wanting to get a proper, pure-bred baby Dane puppy, then I have to say that I would NEVER get a puppy from somebody who just advertises in online classifieds. A good, reputable breeder would never do that (they usually have waiting lists long before their litter is born!). They would have websites giving information about their experience, their dogs & their pedigrees, the health tests they do before breeding and often, information about that specific breed too, to help people make educated decisions about whether that breed is right for them. Good, reputable breeders would also usually be listed with the breed clubs or societies.
So I would be very suspicious of anybody who just tried to sell puppies through an online classified site. I would also find it suspicious if an advertiser just sends a photo to prospective owners – a good breeder would usually want people to visit them in person (if possible) or at least talk to them on phone or via extensive emails – because they would want to interview you as well and make sure that you’re good owners for their puppies. Did this person ask you any questions about your own background and your experience with dogs? If they didn’t ask you anything and just sent you the picture of the pup, like a product they’re selling, then I would be VERY suspicious.
Also, as I’m sure you probably know from your research, Danes are not a very healthy breed and prone to a lot of genetic diseases and developmental/structural issues, plus some poorly-bred Danes can have weak temperaments and be very nervy & timid, or even unstable and aggressive. This is a disaster in a dog the size of a Dane. So it is REALLY important that you get a Dane from parents who have been health-tested for things like hip dysplasia and other genetic diseases and who have good, stable temperaments. (Yes, you can never guarantee the health of any puppy – even puppies from health-tested parents can develop issues – but you are raising the chances of getting a healthy dog. Most people would want to do everything to give themselves the best chance of having a healthy, stable dog.)
Yes, I know some people would say that they got their dog from an online “breeder” or BYB (BackYard Breeder) and their dog is fine and healthy and has a great temperament. That’s great. But just because they got lucky doesn’t mean that it’s the right way to go about it. There are many more heart-breaking stories of people who got their pups from BYB’s/online and really regretted it.
Similarly, I know that just because a breeder has “show champions” does not necessarily mean that their dogs are perfect (well, no dog is perfect! ) and they can still be unethical breeders who don’t health-test and who breed from dogs with unstable, weak temperaments.
So that is why I don’t just rate breeders on whether they have show champions or whatever – I would say the most important thing is asking the “breeder” several key questions, such as:
- what health tests they do before breeding the parents? (this applies for any breed, not just Danes – and make sure you know the diseases that your own breed is prone to and the tests for them. * NB. You CANNOT tell if a dog has good hips just from looking at it walk – this is a myth. Don’t believe anybody who tells you this. Any dog used for breeding should have an X-ray and have its hips scored.)
- can you meet at least the mother of the puppies so you can see what she’s like? (remember, puppies are heavily influenced by their mother’s temperament as she is their model in their earliest weeks of life. A timid, aggressive mother will often produce timid, aggressive puppies. It’s why good breeders spend a lot of time choosing “a good brood bitch” – she has to be more than just a pretty face!). Often it is not possible to meet the father because good breeders will often use a stud male dog from another breeder, in order to outbreed and improve their lines. But you can ask about him and check out the breeder that he is from.
- are the puppies born & raised inside the house? Are they socialised with people & household noises from the first weeks of life? Puppies that are just born & raised in kennels outside with very little social contact often develop fear issues as they grow older. The first 14 weeks of a puppy’s life is crucial and you need to do as much socialisation as possible before that window closes – and since your breeder will have the puppy for the first 8weeks, it makes a huge difference if they can begin socialisation for you. For example, Honey’s breeders spent time running the vacuum cleaner near her litter and playing the radio, etc – so that they could be used to household noises & machinery. I am sure this is one of the reasons Honey has always been so good & stable about noises and doesn’t freak out in traffic, thunder, loud crowds, etc.
- will the breeder take the puppy back in case there are any issues? A good, reputable breeder cares about their puppies forever – it’s not just a money-making exercise. They want to know if there are problems and they’ll be there to support you and if you really need to rehome the puppy, they will want to be involved and will be happy to take the puppy back. When we got Honey, we got a contract with a clause that said if she ever had to be rehomed, her breeders wanted to be the first to know.
There are several other questions you can ask - a good breeder will not mind you asking as many questions as you like and won’t be evasive in their answers. They would welcome you “grilling” them because it shows that you care and are a responsible owner.
Rehoming a puppy…maybe a Dane
2) If you’re just looking to rehome a Dane from another family – then I suppose there is no harm in looking through online classifieds. But just as long as you are aware that you are just adopting “what is out there” (which is fine – nothing wrong with that) – If all you want is to rehome a dog – then that’s fine. You can see whatever is online and choose the one that you think suits your family. But that is a different thing to getting a purebred Dane puppy from a reputable breeder.
There might be lots of nice dogs out there that have to be rehomed for various reasons – and you may find that they suit your family fine – and that’s great. As long as you are aware of what you’re taking on. Depending on how much information the person advertising can give you, you might know nothing about the puppy’s background, health, breeding, socialisation, etc. These are all important things which can impact on your life with this dog. I’m not saying that rehomed dogs must have problems – but just as long as you go into it with your eyes open.
If you ARE just interested in rehoming a Dane from another family, then make sure you get as much information as you can about the dog and its background. And make sure you spend a good amount of time interacting with the dog before you make the decision – so you can see what kind of personality it has, what bad habits and whether you can live with them or feel you can train the dog to correct them.
- Take it for a walk.
- Spend time playing with it ( Does it have bite inhibition? Is it very rough? Very timid? Does it show interest in you or just runs off & does its own thing? )
- Does it mind being handled & touched? Does it flinch if you make any sudden moves?
- Spend time ignoring the puppy (this is just as important as playing with it, to see if it will settle or does it keep pestering you/barking at you? Can it calm down or is it very hyper?)
- Ask the person how the puppy copes with being left alone (does it bark/cry? Does it get destructive?)
- Ask the person how the puppy deals with meeting strangers? With loud noise? With new things/new places?
- Ask the person how much socialisation the puppy has had – what sort of places have they taken the puppy? How did the puppy react?
* – Ask them WHY are they rehoming this puppy?? (see below)
You’re not trying to get a perfectly-behaved or perfectly-trained puppy but rather seeing what kind of temperament the puppy has, so you know what you’re dealing with and whether you can cope with it.
There is no perfect puppy and different personalities suit different people. I personally cannot stand noisy dogs so I know that a very yappy, excitable type of dog would not suit me. Yes, you can teach a dog to be quieter with training but some personality traits can’t be changed (and some would even say, why change it?) – they just need to be matched to the right owner. You have to know yourself. Even puppies with “behaviour problems” can be rehabilitated & trained into becoming lovely dogs – but they will need more work and you have to decide whether you’ve got the time, expertise and willingness to put in the extra work needed.
Getting an older (leftover?) puppy…
Finally, with regards to the pup in this picture – yes, from my limited experience, it does look like a Dane – however, I can’t tell if it looks like a “good quality Dane”. Just “looking like a Dane” isn’t enough – what’s more important is – is it from good quality breeding? Does it have health issues? What is its temperament like? You NEED to know those things more importantly than just “does it look like a Great Dane?” In a way, if you have done your research, then you should have no doubts when you look at a good quality, pure-bred Great Dane.
Also, I must add that the puppy in the picture looks fairly old already. I would say 5 months or even older. This does not mean that it’s not a nice puppy or that it won’t suit your family BUT it would make me a bit wary because:
1) – you have already missed the early months and key socialisation periods of its life, so its personality is already very set. This is not such an issue if you want to just rehome a dog – you take that on board – but if you wanted to start with a purebred baby puppy that was a clean-slate for you, then this puppy is already past that. You may need to take on some “baggage” and be willing to work with that. Again, I’m not saying that it MUST have problems just because you got the puppy older – if it’s a rehome, maybe the previous family did a lot of good socialisation already – but you just don’t know. You need to ask & find out, otherwise you could be spending a lot of time dealing with a lot of behavioural issues.
2) – WHY is it being rehomed?? A LOT of Dane puppies get to around the 5 or 6 months mark and start to become big & strong and too boisterous and no longer so cute and start pulling & lunging on their leashes and generally being a real handful. Their owners – who didn’t put in the early socialistion & training needed – then feel like they can’t cope. This is the time that a LOT of Dane puppies get rehomed. So this puppy being around this age makes me suspicious if this is just someone who is finding their Dane pup too much and wants to get rid of them online. That doesn’t mean that it won’t be a good dog for you – maybe you could spend time to train it and it would be a great dog for your family – but you need to go into it with your eyes open and know what you might be getting. At this age, you’re no longer getting a baby puppy – you’re getting a teenager who is going into the most rebellious phase of a dog’s life and will really test you. And with a Dane, getting REALLY STRONG & POSSIBLY DANGEROUS. Can you cope with that? Are you willing to take that on and put in the work necesssary?
3) – if it’s from a “breeder” – why is it being sold so old? Again, I am not saying an older puppy is bad. There are many cases when a reputable breeder may keep a puppy who looks like it has show potential and then realise as the puppy grows up that actually, it is better suited to being a pet than a show dog – so then they will decide to find that puppy a pet home. So in that case, there is a legitimate reason for the puppy to be “sold” at an older age – and as long as the breeders are good, it should have had a good foundation in socialisation & training.
BUT – the worst case scenario – which is what I would be really suspicious of – is if this puppy is from a BackYard Breeder who basically couldn’t get sell it – and it’s stuck around and now they’re trying to get rid of it. Again, that doesn’t mean it might not be a nice dog for you – but you need to be aware that that is what you’re getting – it’s like the puppy at the pet store that never gets chosen and ends up hanging around for ages…if they are a BackYard Breeder, they may have done no socialisation or made any effort with this puppy – so you could be buying a big disaster with health issues and temperament issues and behavioural issues.
I am NOT saying that this must happen with every older puppy you buy – I know lots of people reading this are probably going to rush to say that they got their dog as an older puppy from a BYB and it all worked out fine. As I said, that’s great. Good for them. But I personally would not want to take that chance.
It’s like if you go to a doctor, you’d want to find one that’s properly qualified and trained and washes their hands! Sure, if they don’t do any of those things, your treatment might still go fine and you get better – but I certainly wouldn’t want to take the chance if I have a choice!!
Happy to adopt an older pup? Go to Dane Rescue!
* Finally, if you’re happy to rehome an older puppy Dane rather than get a baby puppy from a breeder, then I would encourage you to contact your local Dane rescue. There will be one in your area and they will be able to help you find older Dane puppies that need new homes – for whatever reason – but at least, you would be getting advice & recommendations from Dane experts who can prevent you getting conned by some online ad from a Backyard Breeder. They will also be able to help you check the puppy’s temperament & possibly health, so that you have a better idea what you’re taking into your family. They will be able to match you to the right Dane for your family. In my opinion, supporting Dane Rescue is much better than going through some random online ad, if you’re happy to adopt an older puppy and not bothered about buying a baby puppy from a breeder.
In this situation, I would really recommend that you contact your local Dane Rescue and ask them their advice about this puppy as well.
Hope this has been helpful. Good luck with your decision.